This blog explores the effects of various nutritional supplements on my mental health. This is by no means a scientific blog, but rather a starting place for people and parents who feel frustrated by the lack of options presented by more traditional or typical healthcare.
“Nootropics” is a neologism that refers to non-traditional nutritional supplements, i.e. anything other than typical vitamins and minerals and protein supplements. But typical supplements–especially certain proteins–can have an enormous effect.
I am a 42-year-old woman with Asperger’s and ADHD. I was previously misdiagnosed with schizophrenia (2004) and bipolar disorder (2008) in another country. The psychiatrist who diagnosed me with schizophrenia no longer practises medicine. The doctor who diagnosed me with BD wasn’t a psychiatrist, nor a specialist of any similar kind. They were both quite wrong. When none of the drugs I was prescribed worked, I stopped taking them and stopped seeing the prescribing doctors; but I continued doing research in order to discern what was “wrong” with me.
I figured out it was Asperger’s from my own research, and then got a formal diagnosis from a psychiatrist in the dept. of complex and acute mental illness at the University of Toronto/CAMH. I haven’t yet been diagnosed with ADHD and didn’t think it was part of me until a few months ago, but in hindsight it’s been a major issue in my life. I’m awaiting a specialists’ appointment, but I’m 99.9% sure I have it–it’s in hindsight quite obvious and many, many people with or without ADD/ADHD have advised me to see someone about it. (Once I’m diagnosed, I’ll change this intro.)
One thing about Asperger’s is that it makes it difficult for us to see what we’re like compared to other people. I’ve always been incredibly hyperactive, and one of the good things about ageing is that it’s calmed me down (somewhat :)), so I just have a lot of energy sometimes. My brain spins really quickly, but it’s incredibly difficult to gain traction and be productive, because life can be so interesting to me and it’s hard to focus–unless I hyperfocus, and then the level of focus is like a laser beam. I am quite intelligent and had my IQ tested at age 12 by a professional psychologist, and I was placed in the gifted program for kids with IQs above 150. I believe that my conditions are both a hinderance and an advantage, and I wouldn’t change my brain for all the riches or wonders in the world. It’s kind of a joke — I’m blessed with a high I.Q. and enormous other intellectual and physical gifts; but until recently, I had precious little executive brain function and very little understanding of my emotions. What’s that quote about Othello? Like heaven mocking itself, lol. I gotta laugh at myself; sometimes, it’s the only way I manage to carry on.
I have suffered from depression for most of my life, and at one point it degraded almost to the point of psychosis, which is what motivated me to seek treatment; but because of the misdiagnoses and the harsh, ineffective and damaging drugs that I was prescribed (but took very little of and which didn’t work, for the large part), I have been reluctant to take prescription medications.
This led me to search for alternatives to help improve my mental health and social functioning, and I had always taken lots of vitamins for general health reasons, so additional nootropics and supplements were the logical choice. I finally relented my own ban on prescription drugs this fall, and started on 100gr of bupropion, as it is recommended for alleviation of some ADD symptoms. It has helped enormously with my depression, but not so much with my ADHD. I recently increased to 150gr, but it has had only a slight effect on my ADHD thus far. Still, it’s improved, so I’m on the right path.
Since the fog of depression has been lifted, I’ve been able to see the world and different societies so much more clearly, and can thus better discern my place in it. I can relate better to people, and be more productive in life. This has been a huge improvement for me. This fact alone has changed my personality somewhat, and for the better. I’m lucky in that I’m very self-aware — and being an aspie, I’m extremely logical and rational. So I am in a unique position for self-research.